Koeman and the Cruyff example

Koeman addresses the Barcelona squad at La Cartuja.

Joan Laporta and Ronald Koeman are more united by the Cup final than the contract that the coach signed with Barça until 2022 with Josep Maria Bartomeu. The president and the coach need the title to build the project and underline their aspirations in LaLiga. The immediate future is easier to manage with a win than with a defeat in Seville. The coach has always felt like a club coach and a citizen of Barcelona. This is how it behaved during the electoral campaign, when it assumed that the entity’s critical economic situation prevented any winter reinforcement, and also after Laporta’s election.

The then candidate described as “faultless” the behavior of Koeman, support in those days of the Barça. “He deserves a margin of confidence that will mark the results and the game,” Laporta insisted. “He is one of the greats of Barcelona. He has been brave in his commitment to young people, the squad is increasingly motivated and we hope the philosophy can evolve cruyffista like Pep Guardiola and Frank Rijkaard ”. Laporta, who ruled out hiring Koeman in 2003, when he won the elections for the first time because he did not want to pay the release clause of the then Ajax coach, has not revealed on his return to the club what his bet is for the Camp Nou bench.

Only a possible interest in Julian Nagelsmann of Leipzig transcended, an extreme that has not been commented on by Laporta or Koeman. “Nagelsmann? I have a contract and we have to continue ”, replied the Barça coach when asked back in the day. “There is a lot of future in the team,” he insisted after praising the youngsters and highlighting “the energy, quality and character” of veterans like Messi. Laporta does not stop showing his support to the team and the coaches with gestures rather than words and tries to gain time after the defeat in Valdebebas. The classic always leaves sequels and some manager has begun to whisper about Koeman. Laporta is not in a hurry or money and awaits Seville.

Koeman was never an author’s technician, but is distinguished by his pragmatism and ability to withstand pressure: “I know where I am,” he proclaimed in Seville. There is no known enemy other than the VAR in a maddening season due to the departure of Luis Suárez, Messi’s burofax, the injury of Ansu Fati, the resignation of Bartomeu, the Barçagate, a debt of one billion or the inability to sign Eric García and Memphis Depay. And yet, there has not been a reproach from the Barça coach. Although the argument would seem sufficient to respect his contract and assures: “I do not need any ratification from the president, because I know I have his confidence.” Laporta moves cautiously through the Camp Nou. Tacticism increases the expectation for the Cup final. Koeman does not seem restless, he never felt like an intern and has always distinguished himself by his courage since he left the Netherlands team to sign for Barça. The coach learned to maneuver in adversity and does not seem to fear for the position if it depends on a tournament that brings him good memories: the Cup was the first title he won as a player with Barça in 1990, when Johan Cruyff played the position against the Madrid of the Quinta del Buitre. That day the Dream team. And it was also the last trophy he achieved as a coach, champion with Valencia in 2008, after beating Getafe under Michael Laudrup.

The Cup has marked the extremist character of Barça. There was a time when the best stages of the team culminated while before it functioned as a lifeguard for the club: Barcelona fans do not forget the final of the 1968 bottles or the goals of Ramon Alfonseda in the 1971 one, of the Squab Marcos in 1983 or José Ramon Alexanco in 1988 against Real Sociedad. Also a Cup final was the match with which Guardiola coach and Diego Maradona said goodbye. The rival in both games was precisely Athletic: the Catalans lost in 1984 and won in 2012.

Laporta’s obsession, his act of faith and football creed, is more on the field than on the bench: he wants to ensure Messi’s continuity first of all. It is not that he is not interested in the coach, but that the contract ends on June 30 and not in 2022.

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